I AM ON VACATION I AM ON VACATION I AM ON VACATION!!!
This one thought cycles through my head as I pack my overnight bag with only the essentials for the next ten days. Toiletries, brush, makeup, minimal clothing - didn't need much on the beach. No man to impress. No kids to tell me how dorky I look.
Only four hours to go. Drive an hour to the airport from my podunk little town in this frigid northern climate then board a plane for sunny Florida. I even got a direct flight. Within two hours of arrival I planned on being on the beach with a drink in one hand and a good book in the other. Woe to anyone who interrupted me!
The past year has been hell - the divorce was final in March. My daughter was safely married in June. My son off to college in August. Our old basset hound, Molly, died at the ripe old age of fifteen in October. The house is completely empty. Lonely. I worked longer hours, even weekends, to fill that emptiness. Well, guess what it got me? An ulcer. Doc says I need a break, the boss says I need a break. Well, fine. Ten days of fun -HA!- in the sun. By myself. Oh boy.
The plane landed and the sunshine looked so good! When I left home it was snowing and seventeen degrees. It's eighty-five here. With only a carry on, I was out of there in fifteen minutes and in a cab heading for my hotel. I picked a Radisson on the water with lots of sandy beach and waiters that would bring a drink, a towel or a sandwich any time I wanted.
I AM ON VACATION!
After checking in, I went up to my room. It's beautiful with a king sized bed, large bathroom, a table and chairs, and love seat. I turned the TV on to the local news to get the weather report while changing into my new swim suit - a two piece that covered some of my baby belly and showed lots of cleavage. Looking in the mirror, I'm not too ashamed of my looks - short blond hair, clear skin with the requisite crows feet, soft curves and a nice butt over trim legs. Digging out my flip flops and lotion and grabbing a large bath towel I head down to the beach with my book in hand. It's Tuesday and the population on the beach front is light - a couple of families with small children, a few older couples and a smattering of singles. The occasional boat in the blue water completes the scene.
Finding a chaise in an unpopulated area of the beach, I set down on my towel. Within ten minutes, the waiter has taken my order for a rum runner and I settle in with my book. It's a romance novel - brain candy. My drink arrives and I finally feel like I AM ON VACATION!
'Did you put on any of that lotion?'
Startled, I look up to see a profile of a man but can't make out his face because of the sun being behind him. Shading my eyes I tell him, yes.
'That's too bad. I was hoping I could do that for you."
'Well, I thank you for the offer, but I'm fine. Are you staying here?', I ask, more out of politeness then actually caring.
'Yes. I'm here for a break - doc says I work too hard.' He laughs with almost no humor.
'That's amazing! I'm here for the exact same reason. Ulcer. You?'
'No, not that - I punched out a guy at work. He had it coming, but they didn't see my point of view. But before you start screaming, I've never done anything like that before. I'm actually quite gentle. But this guy just stepped on my last nerve and the next thing I know, I'm in anger management class with some really scary people. The doc in charge told me to take a vacation and he'd reevaluate me when I got back. So here I am. My name's Alan. What's yours?'
'Julie. Your story is so much more interesting than mine. Combination divorce, empty nest, even the dog died. Threw myself into my work. Over did it. Care to pull up a chair and share the beach? I'm sure our friendly neighborhood waiter will get you a drink.'
As he sat, I finally got a good look at him. Dark hair with blue eyes, decent build - no six pack abs, but a flat stomach. He had a good face - strong jaw, clear skin, slight shadow of a beard. His hair was short - looked recently trimmed - a little gray at the temples. Nice.
Three hours and at least three rum runners later, we were laughing and talking like two old friends. We talked about everything. He was widowed at a young age - only thirty-four at the time. His wife had died of a rare blood disease. They hadn't had children. He never found anyone else that he could be serious about. So here he was at forty-eight, overworked, and on vacation alone.
I couldn't believe this handsome, charming man was alone. When I told him that he told me that he found it strange that I was too.
'No one new in your life? No boy toy even?'
I laughed long at that one. A boy toy for me? A forty-seven year old, mother of two, divorced of one? No, not me I told him.
'Well, I'd sure notice you! In fact, I did ... Would you have dinner with me?'
'Sure I would. Why not? We're both single, alone and here ON VACATION! I have nine more days to remake myself into someone that can go into the next year without baggage. Dinner sounds like a good start.'
After I got back upstairs, I remembered that I had packed really light. Oh well, he'd just have to deal with me in a sundress and sandals. After a long shower, I figured out that my lotion didn't have a strong enough SPF for Florida sunshine ... so lotion and a couple Tylenol were necessary. I made a mental note to find an umbrella chair tomorrow because NOTHING was keeping me off that beach. When I was finally presentable, I went down to the lobby.
I was about five minutes early, but he was already there. He was wearing tan linen pants, a Hawaiian shirt and sandals and looked great with his dark skin and hair. My insides did a slight flip flop and I felt a warning siren in the back of my brain. I hit the snooze button on the alarm and gave up trying to figure out my insides.
He came towards me and gave me a light kiss on my cheek.
'You look so nice - summery, but I think you got a bit burnt.'
I just shrugged and said it wasn't so bad. I also told him he looked nice too. I'm not sure, but I think he actually blushed a bit. That was interesting.
We went to the dining room and after ordering drinks, we continued our conversation from earlier. It never occurred to me that simple conversation could be so good for my mind! As I sat there, I realized that the only adult conversations I engaged in were with co-workers or clients. My daughter talked to me as if I was feeble minded, my son was too wrapped up in college. My ex-husband was too much in lust with his very young, very well-endowed, new wife. Of course, we hadn't talked in years - yelled, yes. Talked, no.
Pretty soon, we ordered, ate and while sitting over coffee, realized that we had so much in common that we felt totally comfortable with each other. Alan reached over at one point and took my hand and I felt a tingle - I hadn't 'tingled' in so long it took me a minute to realize that I was feeling a sexual attraction! What an eye opener that was. I must have gotten quiet because after a few minutes, Allan asked if I was OK.
'Sure I am. I just had a 'senior moment' there. Brain just went blank for a minute there. You were saying?'
'I was asking you if you'd like to go sight-seeing tomorrow. I've never been to this part of Florida before and I hear the surrounding towns have some interesting antique shops.'
'Oh, I don't want to intrude! But I will admit to loving antique shops. If you're sure you want company, I'd love to go.'
'Wonderful! Is nine to early? I tend to get up early even on vacation. Bad habit from working too much.'
'I have the same problem. I can just meet you in the lobby if you'd like.'
'Sounds good. Maybe we can grab some breakfast on the road. I rented a car, so at least we won't have to hitch a ride.'
We both laughed at the image of us out in front of the Radisson, with our thumbs out.
'Well, I'm going to go upstairs. I should probably call my daughter - but I can already hear the dire warnings to be careful and all that stuff I used to tell her. You'd think I was seventeen and stupid.'
'So don't call her. Save yourself the grief and maybe get a little even for all the times she made you worry ... hehe ... Don't worry, she's probably already called and left at least three messages!'
'You're more than likely right. And I think she can wait till tomorrow to hear from me!'
Feeling good about my decision to be bad, I stood up from the table. Alan stood too.
'I'll walk you up. Be a gentleman and all that.'
'Not necessary, really. I'm a big girl.'
'Nope. It will never be said that I was not a gentleman. So lets go.'
.... There is more of this story ...